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Government scraps flu vaccine review

By Lilian Anekwe

Government plans to wrestle control of the ordering system for the annual flu vaccine campaign back from GPs have been scrapped, Pulse can reveal.

The Department of Health launched an independent review of the mechanism for ordering supplies of the vaccine for the annual winter flu jab campaign in November 2005, after production problems led to catastrophic delays in delivery.

The review, published in March last year, recommended that GPs be stripped of their role negotiating discounted prices for flu vaccines, in favour of the Department centrally arranging a flat price with manufacturers.

Profits made by the Department were to be ploughed into an incentive scheme to allow GPs to maintain their profits from taking part in the flu jab scheme – but the proposals included competition from alternative providers.

But Pulse has learned that, in an embarrassing climbdown, Ministers have abandoned their plans to change the system, as they feared denying GPs of substantial profits would provoke a revolt among GPs.

A senior Government advisor told Pulse that, despite a costly and high-profile review lasting fourteen months, the Department of Health had finally conceded that the fight would be ‘one battle too far'.

‘It was felt within the Department that, given how lucrative negotiating reduced prices and delivering the vaccine in clinics is, to take that away from them was one battle too far and not worth fighting for.'

The source added that the Department had decided that ‘their energies would be better spent elsewhere.'

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